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Family Trekking Nepal 16 Things To Consider
While you could just wing it, we recommend you do some pre-planning before you go family trekking in Nepal. We say this because we just did a Ghorepani Poon Hill trek with a baby, our 8-month-old son P, and even though we overlooked a few things, we’re glad we planned ahead.
Below we are going to share some of the insights we gleaned from our experience. We hope the lessons we learned will help you to avoid overlooking some of the same things. Of course, if you have any suggestions that you think we should add to our list, or if you have any questions/comments, drop us a line below, and we’ll get back to you in a flash!
General Considerations For Family Trekking Nepal
1. Carefully Choose Where You Go Family Trekking in Nepal
Choose a trekking route in consideration of your family’s ability level. While a 5 year old boy trekked to Everest Base Camp, he is certainly the exception to the rule. We are proof that it is possible to complete a Ghorepani Poonhill trek with a baby. However, we are also proof that other trekking routes would have been more suitable for us. As it turns out, we had to cut or Poon Hill trek short.
At risk of stating the obvious, we also want to mention that emergency evacuations are variably difficult throughout Nepal. In the unfortunate event of an emergency evacuation, it is important your route has evacuation options you’re comfortable with.
2. Consider When To Go Family Trekking in Nepal
Make sure you consider the season in which you plan to do your family trekking in Nepal. While September to November is the peak season for trekking in Nepal, in reality you can trek in Nepal year round. Again, the main factors to consider are your family dynamics. If you have older children who are accustomed to hiking in a wide range of weather conditions, consider family trekking in Nepal year round. If you have younger kids who are new to trekking, we suggest you stick with a shorter trip in the more mild months.
3. There Are No Dumb Questions For Your Trip Organizer
When family trekking in Nepal there is no such thing as a “stupid question.” If something goes against your common sense, ask about it. We made the mistake of putting too much trust in our trip organizer. After all, he had 10 years of experience in the business. We thought we were dealing with a highly experienced and knowledgable expert. Thus, when we asked him about trekking Poon Hill in December with our 8-month-old son, and he agreed to guide us, we trusted that it was a reasonable and safe thing to do. In retrospect, we are not sure it was either. And again, we had to cut or Poon Hill trek short due to a number of conditions he never mentioned to us.
Some of the things he never mentioned were:
- There would be -9 C (15 F) temperatures at night.
- Our rooms were not heated in the various trekkers lodges.
- The trails would have some snow and ice on them, even before the summit of Poon Hill (10,500 ft / 3,200 m).
- We should bring ice cleats and trekking poles to help traverse the icy/snowy sections. (Look at our Nepal Trekking Packing List if you want to see all the gear we brought with us.)
- In general, December is not a suitable time to trek Poon Hill with an 8-month-old.
- We were his first ever clients to ask to trek Poon Hill with a baby. (He mentioned this after we decided to cut our trip short.)
So at risk of being redundant, there are no stupid questions when you plan your family trekking in Nepal experience. Ask everything. Ask anything, and then, consider getting a second opinion.
4. Have A Backup Plan For Your Trek
Before heading into our Poon Hill trek we didn’t flesh out a backup plan, as we didn’t expect to cut our trek short. However, we now know that when family trekking in Nepal, it’s best to expect anything. To get out of the mountains and to the nearest city, we took a Jeep to Pokhara. Fortunately, our hotel staff were knowledgeable. Also, the WiFi was good. Thus, we found many things to do in Pokhara. Ultimately, we had a really good time. Regardless, having a bit of a backup plan really won’t take away from your family trekking in Nepal experience.
Specific Considerations For Family Trekking Nepal
5. Train For Your Family Trekking in Nepal Experience
The better shape you are in, the more you are going to enjoy family trekking in Nepal. While you can’t easily simulate exercising at high altitude, every bit of pre-training will help. Also, make sure your training is as close to your trekking experience as possible. In other words, while cross-training is better than nothing, simulating your trekking experience will be even more beneficial. For example, for a few months before we went family trekking in Nepal we both hiked two to three times each week carrying heavy backpacks. While we still found the terrain in the Annapurna Conservation Area quite challenging, we can’t even imagine how hard it would have felt if we didn’t do pre-training.
6. Get Your Baby Used To Being In A Baby Hiking Backpack
To expand a bit on the heavy backpacks we mentioned above, it’s pertinent to point out that one of the backpacks we carried was full of our son P. More accurately, we have a baby hiking backpack for P. Since he was about four months old we have been hiking around Hong Kong with him on our backs.
At first P wasn’t used to the hiking backpack, and we had to stop every hour or so. However, overtime he got used to it. By the time we went family trekking in Nepal, P had been taking weekly rides in his baby hiking backpack for just over four months, so he was comfortable staying in his pack for two to three hours at a time as we progressed along our Ghorepani Poon Hill trek. If you go family trekking in Nepal with a kiddo that needs to be carried in a baby hiking backpack, we recommend you get them use to it well before your trek.
7. Only Pack What You Need
This one doesn’t take much explanation. Whether you’re carrying your own pack or if you’ve hired a porter, everyone has a better time if the pack on their back is lighter. If you want to read about exactly what gear we brought with us when we went family trekking in Nepal, have a look at our Nepal Trekking Packing List.
One of the most important essentials you’ll have to bring is proper footwear. Since you’ll be hiking on uneven surfaces, you’ll likely want boots (or at least decent hiking shoes), along with your trekking poles that are sturdy and flexible. Look for boots that are designed with soles that are breathable and can also hold up on slippage.
Something else that may come in handy during your trip is a mountaineering helmet. Ask your guide if you really need one, as you’ll find many places where they’re unnecessary. Ultimately, if you do need one, check with your trekking guide to see if any mountaineering helmets are available. That way, you can skip the hassle of bringing your own.
8. But Bring Your Baby’s Must Haves
While it is possible to buy plenty of baby items in Kathmandu, we don’t think while traveling in a foreign country it’s a good time to experiment with new foods, formula, diapers, soaps, etc. Therefore, we brought P’s “must have” items along with us when we went family trekking in Nepal, and we recommend you do the same. Furthermore, as we got farther away from Kathmandu we saw increasingly less baby items, and up in the mountains we saw none at all. The bottom line is, trekking in Nepal with your kids, especially with a baby, will require them to adjust to a lot of new things, but you can reduce that number by bring along with you some of their essential comfort, nutrition and health related items.
9. Consider Hiring A Porter
Even though we trained for family trekking in Nepal by hiking around Hong Kong with heavy backpacks, we still decided to hire a porter. The main reason is because unlike trekking without a baby, where reaching your destination means you can simply kick back and relax, trekking with a baby means that once you reach your destination you still have to expend some energy to take care of your little one. Not wanting our family trekking in Nepal experience to be overly grueling, we hired a porter so that we would have some pep left at the end of the day to play with and care for P.
10. Don’t Bring Snack Foods Unless You Have Dietary Restrictions
Our trip organizer told us that if we wanted snacks through the day we would have to bring our own. What he should have said is that if we wanted particular food items we should bring those along. As it turns out, there are many Nepalis who live right along the trail, and from their homes many of them sell basic food items and snacks. Some people were even selling fresh seasonal fruit such as oranges, apples and pomegranates. Ultimately, if there are certain foods you can’t live without, or if you have dietary restrictions, you might want to bring your own snacks, but otherwise, don’t waste your or your porter’s energy carrying them.
11. Bring Nepalese Rupees For The Mountains
To the above point, make sure you bring some rupees with you into the mountains. While our breakfast, lunch and dinners were included in the cost of our Ghorepani Poon Hill trek, snacks and water were not. You can’t drink the tap water, and you and your family will certainly need to drink water, so if for nothing else, bring a bit of money to buy water at a guest house or shop (or see below for a bit of cost saving advice). As an aside, most shops, tea houses and trekkers lodges have large water dispensers with filtered water, so for a small fee you can refill your own bottles.
12. Bring A Way To Purify Water To Save The Planet (And Money)
If you want to be as thrifty and environmentally friendly as possible, make sure you bring a way to purify the tap water. In our Nepal Trekking Packing List we go into full detail on the water purification method we used, but the short version is water purification tablets are sufficient for most family trekking experiences in Nepal.
13. Skip The Line At The Kathmandu Airport By Applying For Your Nepal Tourist Visa Online
When we arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, we saw a massive line for the computer kiosks that can be used to fill out an application for a Nepal tourist visa on arrival. So, we were very glad that we had filled out our forms online. Not everyone is eligible to apply for a tourist visa online, but it’s definitely worth the time it takes to check. While we didn’t hang around to time the lines, our guess is that it would have taken at least 30 minutes to get through them.
14. Take A Jeep To The Trail Head Of Your Trek
We took a car to Ulleri, the starting point of our Ghorepani Poon Hill trek, but in retrospect, we wish we had taken a Jeep. First, the car ride was pretty bumpy. Second, since we were family trekking in Nepal, we had a good bit of gear. Ultimately, while it may cost you a little bit more money per person, we think you and your family will find the added comfort of a Jeep well worth every penny. As an aside, when family trekking we do not recommend riding a tourist bus to get to your starting point, as logistically that would be quite challenging.
15. Order Momos: They Are Easy To Eat While Holding A Baby
Very often our trekking guide, Laxman, played with our son P while Julia and I ate our meals. However we also like eating as a family. To this end, not only are momos delicious, but they are also finger-friendly. So, if you’re family trekking with a kiddo that needs constant attention – quite understandably there were no high-chairs along our route, and we certainly didn’t bring one – we highly recommend ordering some momos.
16. Tip Your Guide and Porter
Last but certainly not least, make sure you tip your guide and porter. While trip organizers certainly pay both, a large portion of their total earnings come from tips. Standard tipping rules apply.
- Tip 20% of your total trip cost for service you found exceptional
- 15% of your total trip cost for average service
- Never tip below 10%.
We left a 20% tip, and we gave our guide Laxman and our porter Nosher 75% and 25% of that tip, respectively. Here’s an example: Let’s say your entire family trekking in Nepal trip costs US$1,000. You should plan on giving a total tip of US$200 (US$1,000 * 0.2 = US$200). Of that US$200, we suggest you give your guide US$150 (US$200 * 0.75 = US$150), and we suggest you give your porter US$50 (US$200 * 0.25 = US$50).
Closing Thoughts On Family Trekking Nepal
Again, we hope our experience and the insights we gained from family trekking in Nepal helps you avoid overlooking some of the same things we did. However, we realize you may also have some valuable insights to share. So, if you have anything you think we should add to this, or if you have comments/questions, leave them below, and we will get back to you just as soon as we can.